Friday, November 30, 2007

Evangelical Madness: Today Bill Moyers was about the fanatical alliance of a few Christian Evangelicals lead by John Hagee with their rabid advocacy, through violence if necessary, support of Israel. They are, of course, against the two state solution. It was a fantastic show because of especially the counter analysis of MJ Rosenberg of the IPF or Israel Policy Forum, which is dedicated to the two state solution. I wrote the following to the Moyers blog:

As usual Bill Moyers's discussion of John Hagee and the articulate MJ Rosenberg's counter analysis of this Christian fanatic was simply brilliant. I cannot think of one thing that Mr. Rosenberg said with which I could disagree. He was passionate, articulate and oh so absolutely correct. I, as a Jew, think what a curious phenomenon these Christian Evangelicals are. They have been, with respect to the Jewish people, all over the political map. It was not so long ago that I remember the Christian right as being rancid with anti-Semitic vitriol. Jews in this country were so often afraid of them. Now they present a new face and have become allegedly the Jew's best friend. They are, though, not that. There is a method to the Christian Fundamentalist madness and it is, of course, to ultimately convert the Jew. The New Testament is not a neutral document with respect to the Jew.

You bet the separation clause of the First Amendment is my friend because without it the Jew might not exist. The real threat to the Jew, Israel and the entire world is, in fact, religion itself. Each group claims they know what God wants. Each group claims they have right on their side and each group will resort to horrific violence to enforce what they think they know. The rest of us who love science, rational thought and the gift of a questioning mind will get swept up in the insanity. The only thing I, perhaps, disagree with Mr. Rosenberg on is that I am not quite as optimistic as he. I certainly hope he is right and the Armageddon that the Christian right and Islamic fanatics want never comes to be.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

There was much commentary on my commentary regarding the Bill Moyers interview of Dr. Cone. I said one final thing about my criticism. It was the following:

This will be my final comment. If there were a round table discussion perhaps I could get my points across more fully and could respond to some of your thoughts and accusations. The odd thing is there is MUCH of what others have said in response to what I said with which I agree. Much has been said eloquently. Some has not. Of course, I try to look at both ends and in the middle of all issues as nothing is all one way or the other. Of course I know people overcome huge odds and work diligently every day. Having said that one cannot deny some of what one sees. One doesn't necessarily have to see everything first hand but certain media reports are credible and SOME observations are true.

As for US policy I also do not see it all one way or the other. Human beings are not angels. This is a dangerous world and homo sapiens has an aggressive gene in us somewhere. The US is not to blame for all the world's problems BUT it does, no doubt about it, contribute to some. I consider myself left of center -- slightly left. The problem I have had with the left of this era is that sometimes they are utterly as blind as the right to the shades of gray.

The US has catapulted itself historically to be a nation of great wealth, power and influence. Which country in the world would eschew that power, wealth and influence if they had it? I am a realist. Would I like to change US policy both foreign and domestic ... a resounding yes. It needs change. In print it is not always possible to discuss all aspects of what one says. Suffice it to say I agree with parts of many who have written but I disagree with other parts. There is not room here nor do I have the time to constantly respond but at the risk of being labeled things I am not, I feel compelled to respond one last time.

To summarize: I believe great wrongs have been committed in our culture. I believe people have, in great part, overcome those wrongs. I applaud that. I do still think others languish in a horrific climate of fear, poverty, ill health, crime and other maladies. Perhaps as Shakespeare said "The fault dear Brutus is not in the stars but in ourselves." If one looks to our culture to do something about our plight one may have an awfully long wait. By the way, Bill Moyers is not simply a forum for the left. It is a forum for all. Bill Moyers has had figures on his program like conservative Richard Viguere and many many others with a right wing slant and with whom I whole heartedly disagree. I can think of no better forum than here to discuss a plethora of thoughts, feelings and ideas. This site does not say for left wingers only.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A dialog:

Bill Moyers last Friday had a discussion with a Dr. James Cone, a black theologian, which centered around the historical acknowledgment of white racism and the poisoning implication it had for the black experience in this country. They talked about white denial of this country's racist history. I did not much care for the interviewee because I thought I was being yelled at and preached to. As PBS explains Dr. Crone's credentials: "Professor James H. Cone is the Charles A. Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary. Dr. Cone is an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He is the author of eleven books and over 150 articles and has lectured at more than 1,000 universities and community organizations throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean."

My comment and other responses -- some quite impassioned -- to my comment were as follows.

My comment on Billy Moyers Journal:

A preface: I will always love Bill Moyers.

I am riveted to most Bill Moyers interviews. Unfortunately, Dr. James Cone's interview did not inspire. I always want to give my honest assessment and hope you will indulge me my criticism. I loath being preached to and yelled at. Dr. Cone's loud diatribe lost me and at one point I turned the channel. I have the UTMOST empathy for the historical plight of the black man in this country. I must because I am a Jew. I know full well the impact of racism and its exclusion and what it does to a people and to a human psyche. My people were slaughtered for centuries, ghettoized and excluded often seemingly with no hope. Anti-Semitism exists en mass to this day. Jews had to come back from their near extinction and did so wherever they could through savvy intelligence, communicative abilities, education and hard work. While no two group's experience is the same, the similarities of racism, I believe, are profound.

Dr. Cone's sentiments, I thought, were cacophonous high decibel rants. While we should never forget man's inhumanity to anyone, Dr. Cone's utterings were a bit tiresome. I utterly agree with Bill Cosby. At some point one must take responsibility for one's own life. There are so many contributions blacks have made in every field. Yet, when one looks at many black ghettos one sees violence, drug addiction, crime, all manner of other illegalities and commonplace immoralities. Worse, one sees gangs which refuse to work with authority, commit murder and impose their own "justice" which means no justice at all. I see white's responsibility in part for this historically but I see present day behavior of some black people to be responsible today for their own deep malaise.

In our culture most people care about their own day-to-day lives. Sadly, this is not a very caring culture. As difficult a reality as that may be, one has to work within that as best one can to create a better life because no one else will do that for him. Reading, education, effective communicative techniques, I believe, are some of the road maps out of the quagmire of poverty, horrific murder and crime. No one is going to give one the desire to achieve that. One must have those values instilled fundamentally in the family unit and one must use those values to make a better life.

I thought Bill Moyers was a little cowed by Dr. Cone and perhaps afraid to disagree or argue points with him either on race or religion. I thought Dr. Cone was preaching loudly to me and, frankly, I'm tired of the sermon.



Some agreed and others vociferously did not.

One said:

Of course Mr Drake, you wouldn't see it. First of all, there was no rationale put forward by Dr Cone to justify the current state of the African-American comumunity - that was imagined by Ms Rosen. His message was about America in general and the symbol of the noose in particular and our tendency to sweep that essential fact of our collective being under the proverbial carpet. And therefore the fact that we can't really become a real nation until we have dealt with it.
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If there had been a show about the meaning of the Holocaust and then I blogged afterward with a statement that approximated Ms Rosen's statement, it would read something like this:

"All these people that talk about Jewish suffering during the Holocaust are so strident. That's old history: the story today is that Israel persecutes Palestianians and they drop depleted uranium bombs on Lebanon . So therefore, because of Israel's current day actions, the Holocaust is nullified as a moral issue."

Please note that I am NOT saying this myself - and I don't believe that and neither does Norman Finkelstein (and if you're not aware of the struggles of this son of Holocaust survivors then you're ill equipped to enter into this debate). I am only creating the mirror image of Ms Rosen's statement in order to make her and other thoughtful Americans see the hidden racism in her statement.
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Because we are not yet in a culture where race does not play a factor in our opinions (as this blog makes so patently obvious) it is important that i present myself. I am white, 25% Jewish on my father's side yet my occupation is in African American culture. My ex wife is African American and I have also lived a year in post civil war Lebanon. I am also active in an anti war group whose leaders are for the most part of Jewish origin.
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And i am 100% in agreement with Dr Cone and Dr Mike Jones about the fact that IF we did had more successfully dealt with the tradition of racial conflict in our own country, we would better equipped to equitably deal with the problems in the Middle East
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A book that I recommend to all who are honest about their pursuits to purge America of it's ghosts and move on and "live up to the full meaning of it's creed"(as one oft cited American once said) is David K Shipler's(alas a Jew !) "A Country of Strangers- Blacks and Whites in America"


Peace (yet also Vigilance…)

Another said:

I am absolutely aghast at Ms. Rosen's disgusting contribution to this forum. It is just dripping with her own racism, which of course only she is permitted to exhibit in current day American culture exclusively because of her own ethnic origin which gives her "carte blanche" to dismiss the struggles of any people other than her own .
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If she wants others to take her holocaust seriously, she should start by taking other people's holocausts seriously.
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I am waiting for the first accusations of anti semitism from the JDL types like Ms Rosen to appear on this blog. Such a label is supposed to turn off the spigot of my first amendment rights to speak about this subject - a subject which has become even more 'sensitive ' in modern day USA than the nooses.
I dare anyone to find the slightest substanstiated example of racism in my text, I'm only calling for understanding, awareness and sensitivity.
-


AND A SUPPORTER SAID THIS:

Well said by Natalie Rosen. My reaction to the interview was very similar. Dripping with racism? You can't be serious!

I too was a little disappointed in Mr. Moyers. He came across less like a skilled interviewer and more like an awe-struck student sitting at the feet of the master. That's okay. Everybody has a bad day now and again.

------------------

My note: I certainly did evoke controversy and if one really READS my former statement it is, I think, fair. I acknowledge history but I also acknowledge the individual's responsibility to help himself.

I respond: I stand by what I said and think too Dr. Cone's discussion with Bill Moyers had NOTHING to do with the realities of the Holocaust and the existence of the State of Israel today. Israel is a fact and the Jewish people, as they always have, fight for their right to live. Even with nearly a century of annihilative threats, the Jewish people literally made flowers grow in the desert. They made a heretofore barely cultivated land thrive. That does not mean I am impervious to bad behavior when I see it. I am not. No state gets it all right all the time. The Jewish people knew, however, -- and in pertinent part to the interview -- that the only ones they could trust with their survival and advancement were themselves.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tortured about torture: I am loath to think about the US torturing anybody. It goes against every amber wave of grain in every thought I have about my country. At any other time in history it would be unthinkable. I say no to torture and then a little voice in some buried synapse of my brain says the threats to our country are even worse than any imagined in the good war, World War II. No one had the bomb except us. Now so many have it and so many want it and there are possibly so many lose nukes out there for an enemy to potentially steal. So when I say no to torture and that little synapse says but what if, I say perhaps.
The Perils of Preaching Loudly

A preface: I will always love Bill Moyers.

I am riveted to most Bill Moyers interviews. Unfortunately, Dr. James Cone's interview did not inspire. I always want to give my honest assessment and hope you will indulge me my criticism. I loath being preached to and yelled at. Dr. Cone's loud diatribe lost me and at one point I turned the channel. I have the UTMOST empathy for the historical plight of the black man in this country. I must because I am a Jew. I know full well the impact of racism and its exclusion and what it does to a people and to a human psyche. My people were slaughtered for centuries, ghettoized and excluded often seemingly with no hope. Anti-Semitism exists en mass to this day. Jews had to come back from their near extinction and did so wherever they could through savvy intelligence, communicative abilities, education and hard work. While no two group's experience is the same, the similarities of racism, I believe, are profound.

Dr. Cone's sentiments, I thought, were cacophonous high decibel rants. While we should never forget man's inhumanity to anyone, Dr. Cone's utterings were a bit tiresome. I utterly agree with Bill Cosby. At some point one must take responsibility for one's own life. There are so many contributions blacks have made in every field. Yet, when one looks at many black ghettos one sees violence, drug addiction, crime, all manner of other illegalities and commonplace immoralities. Worse, one sees gangs which refuse to work with authority, commit murder and impose their own "justice" which means no justice at all. I see white's responsibility in part for this historically but I see present day behavior of some black people to be responsible today for their own deep malaise.

In our culture most people care about their own day-to-day lives. Sadly, this is not a very caring culture. As difficult a reality as that maybe be one has to work within that as best one can to create a better life because no one else will do that for him. Reading, education, effective communicative techniques, I believe, are some of the road maps out of the quagmire of poverty, horrific murder and crime. No one is going to give one the desire to achieve that. One must have those values instilled fundamentally in the family unit and one must use those values to make a better life.

I thought Bill Moyers was a little cowed by Dr. Cone and perhaps afraid to disagree or argue points with him either on race or religion. I thought Dr. Cone was preaching loudly to me and, frankly, I'm tired of the sermon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Reality of Empire: Two former military men were on an Air America talk. They supported the Iraq war and even support a future venture into Iran give the same rationales for the Iraq war that the US has given for all of its wars since its inception. They actually said it was for "truth, justice and the American way." I question the American public's cerebral abilities and wonder just what fuels these mythological beliefs and rationales for America going to war and why the American public is so easily duped when the consequences are so distinct and dire.

With the exception of World War II this country has made war consistently, invaded and with purpose tried to create an economic empire of influence throughout the entire world. Our empire has been somewhat different from those throughout history in that the US has never really had a taste to be an occupier but rather has been interested in using the military for accumulation of wealth and extending its influence. Money and power are companion bedfellows. One cannot thrive without the other. We are no different from what the goal of man has been since the dawn of time. I wish we would just say that instead of couching rationales in elementary school lies. After all, we are not children.

The US like any other empire is interested in the accumulation of influence as well as the money and power that come with that. Spreading so called truth, justice and the American way mean absolutely 100% nothing. It is indeed hubris and fiasco to think that through the barrel of a gun this country would stuff our so called way of life down the throats of people whether they want it or not. Those are verbal manifestations of rationales which sound so good and make a gullible public acquiesce to a variety of expensive and life expending ventures because the rationales for those ventures are couched in such glorious terms. Perhaps if they knew the real reasons they would not volunteer to put their blood on the line. If they knew that the war, in part, meant $3.00 plus a gallon for oil and that the immense profits go into just a very few coffers they would not be so quick to commit their sons and daughters so that CEO's of oil companies and wealthy Arab dictators would become very very very rich.

I personally believe that after the perhaps singular glorious fight of World War II we have been yearning to be seen as the strong democratic liberator. It is a nice thought. It is, though, hard to rationalize that when we have since WWII and even before supported and still support dictatorships all over the world without expending two thoughts about it. Vietnam was no exception and certainly most of all Iraq is a marvelous example. Botched wars do not a liberator make. We also forget, too, that the democracy we supposedly love in other countries sometimes can backfire and elect the very Islamic fundamentalists we abhor; witness the rise of Hamas.

The Iraqis are now enslaved by their own fractured populous which was induced by the invasion of a country by the US. Iraq was a country which did nothing to harm us. That is unheard of in recent times since the Hiterlian and Communist episodes of the 20th century. The true rationale for Iraq, as Alan Greenspan aptly said in his book "Age of Turbulence", is oil but it is also I believe a darker motivation of revenge. We wanted revenge for 9/11 and who could blame us. The problem is, as a caller quite correctly said, the money for 9/11 was gleaned through Pakistan and most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi in origin and Whabbi in spirit. Hussein had nothing to do with any of that so why invade Iraq? Invade and conquer Iraq we did because we could. Bush NEVER calculated on the fracturing of Iraq because in his oft laughed-about ignorance, he knew nothing about Iraq's history or its people. In addition, his perpetrating minions did not care about that nor did they, I believe, truly care about American lives or American treasure. We have paid a heavy price in blood and treasure for the miscalculations of the Iraq War. The yet-to-be-seen consequences may be of epic proportions.

The guests knew NOTHING about Iraq, much less about the Middle East, its history or even did they question all the pabulum they are fed by government to take us to war. I might even suggest that our species being what it is loves war. We claim to hate it; we claim to loath the gruesomeness of it but when push comes to shove most will go and feel that sense of glory in killing an enemy any enemy even one which did nothing to us. We claim to love democracy but label as traitors those who disagree with policy.

Norman Mailer recently said he was not at all surprised by what has happened in 20th century history. He said he believed most people were really fascists at heart. It is a sad commentary on who we are as a species but it is made even sadder because we as Americans claim to be much better than that. Are we? I wonder.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Malaise: Forgive the less than creative comment. Just had to vent: I tried to analyze why I am not tuning in to the Democratic message nearly as much as I did over the past two years. It's certainly not that I don't agree with the point of view. I do agree and emphatically so. I guess I feel a sense of hopelessness. The Democratic Congress is such a disappointment and the elation I felt with the 2006 victory which was ebullient now has waned. The high has dissipated and I fear the Democrats will nominate someone who cannot win the general. I am sickened by Romney's lead in Iowa and possibly NH. Why do not the Democrats go after him? He has flip flopped so many times. He's a great target for criticism. The walls of the Big Dig on his watch came down and killed a woman. They should blow his socks off with criticism. I am sickened that Iowa or ANY state's primary should in any way effect an outcome. All the primaries should be on the same day which would make one state not commanding the trajectory of an election.

All those scandals, ALL the corruption of a Republican administration gone wild, all the greed, all the theft of the public purse, the botched war which cost millions of uprooted lives, thousands killed and billion/trillions of treasure goes uninterrupted and Cheney, Bush and all those who conspired to put one over on us go free. No one is held accountable. Even Libby gets off and the furor dies down. Treason prevailed and no one cares. It's sad and I am sickened by it and I feel it's the same diatribe of liberal talk. What has it gotten us?

The electoral college is simply awful. It reduces our blue liberal states and is simply not fair. The red states a conglomeration of small electoral votes should not strategically impact the outcome of a presidential election electing the most powerful person on planet earth with a nuclear button at his/her disposal. Everyone should now be equal as the college is an archaic vestige of a more Spartan country. It's now ridiculous. The influence that these Bible belt states have is plain nuts and I resent it. The blue states pay the bill and the red reap the political rewards. This should not be so.

We cannot get that sticky paper of extremist religious wackoism off of our shoes. They drag us down and return us to another century. I want to advance in intellect and science and diminish our shoot from the hip first and ask questions later mentality. I want to reduce the cruelty that has to a large degree become this country. I am losing hope though because the Democrats the only ones who can return this country to sanity just do not show fortitude and we get Feinsteins and shockingly Shumer voting for a look the other way on torture attorney general. How does this happen? If a Democrat did what George Bush has done he would have been impeached long ago and even referred to the international courts for prosecution. He has committed mayhem under false pretenses. What could be worse?

We MUST be united. If Hillary Clinton gets the nod then we need to UNITE with her and likewise for Obama or Edwards. I am tired of the same old rants, the same old criticisms and tired of fearing our country will NEVER get out from the yoke of this horrendous Republican prison. Cutbacks on healthcare, environmental funds and nearly every humane program with the exceptions of programs for guns and war has been diminished. It's just sad. Is this how our country has evolved? I ask evolve into what? I am sad, and disillusioned and hopeless more than ever before. The liberal rants are now sadly falling on a deaf ear. I simply hope every day a Democrat ... ANY Democrat .... is seated once again in the oval office and sanity with humanity prevails within my lifetime.